Kith, Kin and Christmas

Nicholas Quirke was a long way from his usual festive experience and for the second time in 3 years was overseas and far from loved ones on 25 December 2020 . The world though had become miraculously smaller and through the power of the internet he was able to commingle virtually with his entire family on zoom. It was strange that the gathering, apart from watching the unseasonably dark ‘The Empty Man’ was the last thing he did on Christmas Day, while for his kith and kin it was one of the first. It’s was troubling that his niece had been diagnosed with COVID and was having to isolate in her bedroom and his sister and brother-in-law were awaiting their test results. This was an interesting example of how China were managing to control the spread so effectively. On diagnosis, the China experience would follow a fiercely rigorous route. Megan would be taken to hospital, the neighbourhood officials would be notified, the family would be tested immediately and the building they were in would be disinfected and sealed, the neighbourhood would all be tested within 24 hours and put into quarantine, for 21 days. It had been 14 days but 2 imported cases in Beijing started showing symptoms after they were released from quarantine and the time frame had now changed. He was reminded how much he missed the daily routine of managing family but he felt infinitely safer and continent in his current environment and as everyone said, “Don’t hurry back, its dire here”. The day had been a unique Chinese experience, starting with Jian Bing for breakfast as well as cutting into the amazing vegan cake. The statutory tradition of present giving and opening followed accompanied with a smooth Christmas jazz audio and TV fire. He was delighted with the flowers from Kate, a beautiful mug, tote bag, socks and palace museum magnets from Peng. He was looking forward to their vegan meal which was not until 17.30 and the remainder of their day revolved around advancing towards the restaurant in Dongsi. They headed to Xidan and Shake Shack in Joy City for a snack. They had just opened and were boasting a signature shake and ice cream for each store which Peng needed to try, Nicholas made do with their chips. It was a normal working day for the Chinese and the streets and roads and subways were business as usual. They found a convenient comfortable tearooms in a bookstore and stayed put reading and working till it was time to eat. The restaurant was a companion branch of L Boddhi restaurant where they ate for Peng’s Birthday and on this occasion Nicholas ordered the ‘Expressions of The Boddhi’ menu which came with a total of eleven mouthwatering and colourful courses, with its zenith being the Turmeric hotpot. The dining experience was a delight, with the tables screened off from the other diners by gossamer drapes for purely decorative and atmospheric motives. Once diner was consumed and they had ample time to digest the delicacies they sped home to host the zoom party he had organised. Sated and bloated as one should be on a Christmas Day, they sat down watched a movie then it was time to shut eyes on the day and get a well earned rest.

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